Humans are creatures of habit – park in the same spot, hit the same vendors, buy the usual goods, linger for a visit with your favorite farmers. The holidays have begun. Shoppers are picking up a little extra for company, and gifts – that amazing wedge of aged farmstead cheese from Virginia, a bottle of crafted vinegar, a kitchen towel, some yarn.
Regulars. You know who you are. The ones who show up in the foulest of weather year-round, greeting the vendors by name. This is a friendly reminder that it is time to consider not only the end of Central Farm Markets’ Saturday markets for the season, but also that of other seasonal markets in the region. There are over fifty seasonal markets that dwindle to a handful operating during the winter.
Combined with the end of market season for several major fresh fruit and vegetable vendors, it’s time for the annual shock of just-where-did-all-of-these-people-come-from for the year-round markets at Bethesda and Mosaic.
The bottom line: get to the markets early, even when the weather is miserable.
Mother Nature isn’t exactly in tune with the cycles of consumers, dialing back on the bounty as shoppers’ demands become concentrated.
As one of the original winter market vendors, I’ve witnessed the ebb and flow of annual traffic over the years. Last week I saw faces at market I hadn’t seen since Pike and Westfield opened in the spring. Market vendors will be scrambling to estimate the new weekly demands of new shoppers on top of the additional uptick from holiday shopping.
Trust me, it’s just as uncomfortable for producers to say, “sorry, I’m already out,” as your disappointment in missing out on your favorite yogurt or salad.
If you absolutely can not get to market until later in morning, ask your favorite vendors about pre-ordering. This is a win-win deal all around. Producers are confident they have enough product to meet their most ardent customers’ needs and have X-amount already sold, no matter the meteorological conditions. That said, please don’t pre-order and then not show up.
Similarly, with the impending holidays it is prudent to talk to your favorite vendors ahead of time about large or special orders. By ahead of time, I mean one or two weeks…not an email at 8 PM on Saturday night.
Congestion at times is inevitable, but just remember that your fellow shoppers are also supporting regional farms and producers. Both Bethesda and Mosaic have ample free parking. If you are unable to carry all your purchases back to your vehicle, Central Farm Markets provides concierge services at the Information tent.
There is a lot of patience and sharing out there as many times I’ve witnessed two complete strangers cutting in half the last loaf of bread. But whatever you do, don’t show up five minutes before the market closes and get angry because there isn’t a single egg left for sale.
Welcome to market in the winter.